Trygve Skogrand

The 175ers

This week I started watching the latest season of «Babylon Berlin». Very well made, as always, – beautiful and exciting. But for me it is also interesting as it gives an impression of the late Weimar-era. A time when Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Science existed. In one of the first episodes, a group of SA men referred to a homosexual man by calling him a «175er». This is quite correct, it was an expression at that time: a reference to the law that forbade sodomy, §175 in the German criminal code of Law. In this expression, a queer person was reduced to simply a crime. It is well known that the nazis sendt many homosexual men to concentration camps and prison – less well known is perhaps the fact that many of these had to finish their time in jail even after the war, as West-Germany simply kept the nazi-time version of §175. The law was finally repealed in 1994.

In my own home country, Norway, our criminal code against gays was removed when I was 5 years old. So in theory, when I discovered that I was queer, I could live as who I am. In practice, however, I was still enchained by the prejudice of society and church – and perhaps worse: My own prejudice. Inside I had my own §175, that kept me controlled behind a polite and discreet facade of hetero-normality. I inherited the chains of society, and carried them for long, long years. Now, when I walk in the city or meet new people, I always wonder – what chains do you carry?

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